New Procedures, Techniques Speeding Patients’ Recoveries

Photograph of podiatrist during surgery in an operating room

JOPLIN, MO – Many Achilles tendon surgery patients in Joplinare getting back on their feet faster, thanks to new procedures and techniques.

Shelly D. Sedberry, MS, DPM, AACFAS, a foot and ankle surgeon at Shoal Creek Foot & Ankle Center, says the introduction of tissue graft products, bone anchors, and new less invasive techniques provide patients with less invasive treatments and speedier recovery times.

“These surgical advances will shorten recovery times formany patients, allowing them to get back to their jobs and active lifestyles inless time,” says Sedberry.

The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heelbone in the back of the leg and facilitates walking. The most common Achillescondition is tendonitis, an inflammation of the tendon. Sedberry says mosttendonitis cases can be successfully treated with non-surgical methods such asrest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications, radial shock wave therapy andphysical therapy.

But some tendonitis patients develop scar tissue on thetendon, or their tendon fibers weaken and develop microscopic tears, acondition called Achilles tendonosis. Fixing these problems may require surgeryand weeks to months of recovery.

Overuse, especially in athletes, can cause the Achillestendon to tighten and pull so hard on the heel bone that a bone spur, or bump,develops. Shoes can rub against the spur and cause pain. In addition, a painfulfluid-filled sac called a bursa can develop between the heel bone and thetendon. Traditionally, correcting this tightness involved cutting the tendon,removing the bone spur or bursa, and then reattaching the tendon.

According to Sedberry, new arthroscopic techniques canprovide a minimally invasive option to removing bone spurs and bursas withoutsignificant damage to the Achilles tendon. When the tendon does have to besurgically detached, new bone anchor constructs (screws that are drilled intothe heel bone to secure the tendon and tissues) can reattach the tendon,minimizing the chance of a potentially painful knot developing on the back ofthe heel.

Achilles tendon ruptures are the most serious Achillesinjuries. Most patients require surgery to decrease the likelihood of a re-rupture.Various techniques are available, and increasingly may include grafts. Thegraft provides a scaffold on which new tissue grows, increases the overallstrength of the repair, and is usually absorbed by the body within a year.

Sedberry is a member of the 6,000-member American College ofFoot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) and is board certified in podiatric medicine.She earned her podiatric medical degree from Des Moines University, completed athree year surgical residency at Yale, and opened Shoal Creek Foot & AnkleCenter in 2018.

If you have symptoms of Achilles tendonitis, contact ShoalCreek Foot & Ankle Center by phone at (417) 622-0648 or by email at reliable information on Achilles tendon problems, visit<� “

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